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Author Topic: No Homily at DL?  (Read 27650 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: November 30, 2009, 02:53:26 AM »

I am curious, how many of you have encountered a Divine Liturgy where the homily was excluded? Yesterday they were ordaining a deacon, so I assumed that had something to do with it, but I was rather dissapointed that the homily was left out.  Also, I brought my protestant parents to the service yesterday, and the fact that there was no message was a major sticking point with them. Anyways, I'm curious how commonplace this practice is.

I just realized this may be better suited for the liturgy sub-forum...  Embarrassed
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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2009, 03:27:52 AM »

I think it is fairly common that there is no sermon if it is not a Sunday. I think this is actually most common. I have also been to Divine Liturgies on Sundays where there was no sermon, but this is much less common and I don't think it is done every week in communities where they sometimes don't have it, they just sometimes leave it out for whatever reason.
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2009, 04:01:52 AM »

I'm sorry I should have been more specific. I am referring specifically to DL's on Sunday.
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« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2009, 05:27:42 AM »

There is never a homily at our Divine Liturgy.
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« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2009, 05:56:27 AM »

So you just have scripture readings then, ozgeorge?
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« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2009, 08:13:51 AM »

I've heard the opinion more than a few times that the only Liturgy that shouldn't have a homily from the priest is Pascha, when we read St. John's homily.  I haven't quite gotten to that point myself yet (that is, holding that opinion), but I do believe that most Liturgies should have a homily, even if it's only a short minute or two.
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« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2009, 09:39:33 AM »

It is uncommon for a parish church to not have a homily on Sunday morning. Obviously, it happens, especially when there are events that extend the length of service. However, at every ordination I have been to, I counted the Bishop's response to the ordinand as a homily. Usually, he will speak in both specific and general terms about the nature of the order, its role in the church and how the lay people in attendance should understand the liturgical event and the order itself. At least, that's how it's been in my experience with probably eight or so different ordaining hierarchs.

In monasteries, it varies. I have been to some where the elder will sermonize even during the weekday Typica. On Mt. Athos, there's usually much less sermonizing, at least in my experience. Everyone just hears the Fathers being read aloud during Trapeza.
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« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2009, 12:52:37 PM »

I think there are several issues in play.  1)  homilies have become so prominent to educate people because people do not understand the liturgy and 2) homilies have been usurped to be more life messages than actually proclaiming the Gospel.

A good preacher is really hard to come by and I believe that many priests who know that they are not good at that will just not do a homily.  I've heard way too many homilies from my own priest which were just lost on me because he is NOT a good preacher.  I think he should stop.  We, unfortunately, are bereft of another Chrysostom in our modern era. 

I remember reading once that Dr. Marquadt, an LCMS pastor and step brother to +John Meyendorff was utterly disguted that the Orthodox would bring out the Gospel book, ornate with jewels, carry it with such reverence and pomp, read from it but never preach afterwards.  he thought that was insulting to the Gospel.  The person with whom I was having a discussion about this subject said that the Orthodox do not care to understand the Word of God to which I replied that I thought Protestants regarded the word of God as something that can be personally interpreted and was easily understood so why did it need to be further commented upon?  He was not very happy with my retort and I don't think he should have been. 

The thing is that preaching has been made into a substitute for liturgies especially among Protestants and Evangelicals.  They go to church not to worship but to hear a life message from the Scriptures, which is usually the pastor or minister waxing on and off for about an hour in a non rehearsed way to make the Word of God "relevant" to today's modern Christian.  I think that a lot of Orthodox preachers have fallen into that mindset as well and used it in their homilies while others, recognizing that such could be dangerous, have decided to get rid of the homily altogether.

The Liturgy is as fine a method of educating us in the true faith because so much of it is derived from scripture. I've been told that even if all the bibles in the world were destroyed, we would still have Scripture because it is all referenced in our Liturgies and offices.  but to many people think that the Liturgy is not educational (it isn't by itself) and that the homily is needed to educate people; no, not a homily, better catechesis.
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« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2009, 01:52:16 PM »

Every parish I have ever been a member of has always had a homily on Sunday morning. In fact, I can't think of a time when I've attended a Sunday Divine Liturgy without a homily.

I have, however, attended Divine Liturgy on feast days (non-Sundays) when there was no homily.
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« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2009, 02:43:51 PM »

We have two homilies each Sunday. One in English and one in Arabic.
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« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2009, 03:35:08 PM »

We have two homilies each Sunday. One in English and one in Arabic.
obviously depending on the length of the Homily, what is the typical length of the whole Sunday DL in your church?

Also, this question is directed to Ortho-cat
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« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2009, 03:54:54 PM »

We have two homilies each Sunday. One in English and one in Arabic.
obviously depending on the length of the Homily, what is the typical length of the whole Sunday DL in your church?

Also, this question is directed to Ortho-cat

We have two Liturgies (each with two sermons). The early liturgy is from 7-9:30 AM. The other is from 9:30 -12:00. Each homily is about 15 minutes.

We also have Matins (Morning Raising of Incense) from about 6:30 -7:00. Coptic Matins is shorter than Byzantine. On Saturday Evening we have Vespers Praises, Evening Incense (Vespers) and Midnight Praise from 6:30 until 10:00-10:30 PM

Before anyone asks, we have two Altars.
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« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2009, 04:28:41 PM »

Before anyone asks, we have two Altars.

What is the spirit of this law?
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« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2009, 04:40:39 PM »

The older custom was: no homily or the reading of the "Cazania" or "Sinaxarion". Now it is compulsory to hold a sermon on Sunday.
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« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2009, 04:41:04 PM »

Before anyone asks, we have two Altars.

What is the spirit of this law?
Orthodox custom is to have one liturgy per Altar per day. If you want to have two liturgies you need two Altars. I mentioned it because I know some people on this forum are strict  Smiley
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« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2009, 04:44:34 PM »

Before anyone asks, we have two Altars.

What is the spirit of this law?
Orthodox custom is to have one liturgy per Altar per day. If you want to have two liturgies you need two Altars. I mentioned it because I know some people on this forum are strict  Smiley

Not to speak for someone else, but his question seems to imply that he knows what the letter of the law is (what you have stated) - but he's asking what the spirit of the law is (one Eucharist, one Community - thus, no two altars).

I'm not going to judge, though - I know plenty of communities that try their best to avoid it, but eventually need second (or third) Liturgies.
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« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2009, 04:51:36 PM »



Not to speak for someone else, but his question seems to imply that he knows what the letter of the law is (what you have stated) - but he's asking what the spirit of the law is (one Eucharist, one Community - thus, no two altars).

I'm not going to judge, though - I know plenty of communities that try their best to avoid it, but eventually need second (or third) Liturgies.
Oh, sorry. It's simple math. We have far over 1000 families in the community and the Church seats about 300 (if you add folding chairs in the aisles). Already many people sit downstairs and watch on closed circuit TV. If we had time and room for a third Liturgy we could fill it too.
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« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2009, 04:52:11 PM »

So you just have scripture readings then, ozgeorge?
Yes, we only have the Scripture readings. However, the Gospel reading of the day is always followed by the two Gospel stories of Martha and Mary and Christ blessing those who listen to the word of God in response to the woman who blessed the womb that bore Him.
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« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2009, 04:55:58 PM »

Not to speak for someone else, but his question seems to imply that he knows what the letter of the law is (what you have stated) - but he's asking what the spirit of the law is (one Eucharist, one Community - thus, no two altars).

I'm not going to judge, though - I know plenty of communities that try their best to avoid it, but eventually need second (or third) Liturgies.
Oh, sorry. It's simple math. We have far over 1000 families in the community and the Church seats about 300 (if you add folding chairs in the aisles). Already many people sit downstairs and watch on closed circuit TV. If we had time and room for a third Liturgy we could fill it too.

It's a good "problem" to have!
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« Reply #19 on: November 30, 2009, 06:47:09 PM »

We have two homilies each Sunday. One in English and one in Arabic.
obviously depending on the length of the Homily, what is the typical length of the whole Sunday DL in your church?

Also, this question is directed to Ortho-cat

It typically ranges from 90 to 110 minutes.
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« Reply #20 on: November 30, 2009, 06:49:16 PM »



Not to speak for someone else, but his question seems to imply that he knows what the letter of the law is (what you have stated) - but he's asking what the spirit of the law is (one Eucharist, one Community - thus, no two altars).

I'm not going to judge, though - I know plenty of communities that try their best to avoid it, but eventually need second (or third) Liturgies.
Oh, sorry. It's simple math. We have far over 1000 families in the community and the Church seats about 300 (if you add folding chairs in the aisles). Already many people sit downstairs and watch on closed circuit TV. If we had time and room for a third Liturgy we could fill it too.

Wow!  Shocked
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« Reply #21 on: November 30, 2009, 07:14:59 PM »

As noted above, weekday Liturgies celebrated in my parish by the previous two presiding priests, would have no sermon at the appointed times, after the Dismissal, the priest would come down from the sanctuary with an "Happy nameday to those who celebrate today..." sometimes mixed with an anecdote about the saint's life or the significance of the feast.  It drove me nuts. Thankfully, our current priest will give a sermon even on weekdays.

I recall there was a practice in Greece, probably a remnant of the Ottoman occupation, which may have lasted through the 1960's, at a time when many of the priests were only educated in ecclesiastical schools, not graduate schools of theology, wherein these priests never gave sermons.  Sermons were only given by itinerant preachers, often layman, who had graduate theology degrees, and the bishops.  I have read that the number of priests who are not educated in theology schools in Greece has been significantly reduced in the past 20 years or so.  Metropolitan Kalistos of Diokleia (Timothy Ware) discusses this matter in "The Orthodox Church."
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« Reply #22 on: November 30, 2009, 08:26:24 PM »



Wow!  Shocked

Yeah, we're certainly blessed! Besides being the oldest Coptic Church on the East Coast, we're also the closest to JFK airport, the port of entry for most Egyptian Christians entering the US. So we are their first stop after they land. They come to thank God, and many stay in the neighborhood.

Egyptian Christians love their Churches, and many arrange their lives so they can live within walking distance of their Church. Most are in Church several times a week, for Liturgies, Sunday School, Bible Study and group meetings. We also provide a variety of social services for the immigrants. I hope it's OK to post, but here is the link for our Church website:
http://copticchurch.org/

Have a look, you can even watch the Holy Liturgy in streaming video if you like.
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« Reply #23 on: November 30, 2009, 10:32:21 PM »

In my parish, we always have a homily during liturgy, even for weekday ones.  Before Fr. started hearing confessions through Vespers (our retired priest serves during Vespers), we even had short homilies during them.  Personally, I love to hear Fr's homilies--he's really good and I tend to remember what he says in them.
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« Reply #24 on: December 01, 2009, 02:37:44 AM »

Oh, sorry. It's simple math. We have far over 1000 families in the community and the Church seats about 300 (if you add folding chairs in the aisles). Already many people sit downstairs and watch on closed circuit TV. If we had time and room for a third Liturgy we could fill it too.

It is a wonderful 'problem'!  When some church reach your size, they being to plant additional churches and encourage their members to attend these if they are nearer to their homes.
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« Reply #25 on: December 01, 2009, 05:17:40 AM »

I guess it just seems unfortunate to me that the homily is the first portion of the service to go if the service is to go longer than usual. You would think that they could at least do a mini-sermon at the end of the liturgy that only lasts 5 min or so.  People need to hear the gospel proclaimed!  Sad
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« Reply #26 on: December 01, 2009, 05:37:08 AM »

^The Gospel is proclaimed at every Liturgy- with or without a homily.
We do not have a homily because our Church is a monastery in the Athonite tradition- not for a desire for a shorter Liturgy.
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« Reply #27 on: December 01, 2009, 05:54:03 AM »

Well yes, the core message of the gospel is proclaimed during liturgy, but don't you agree that the daily gospel readings should be explained to the faithful, at least to some extent?
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« Reply #28 on: December 01, 2009, 07:50:00 AM »

Well yes, the core message of the gospel is proclaimed during liturgy, but don't you agree that the daily gospel readings should be explained to the faithful, at least to some extent?
A Homily is rarely an exegesis of the Gospel. The Homily of St. John Chrysostom read at Pascha does not "explain" the Gospel. Its simply preaching. Its very good preaching, but its preaching. I've heard very bad preaching as well. Each prayer and hymn of the Divine Liturgy is a contains theological truth which is common to the whole Church. It would be a shame if someone's distorted interpretation of truth were to be presented alongside it. Priests, monastic and lay preachers are not infallible oracles. Preaching has its place place, but I prefer it outside of the Liturgy.
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« Reply #29 on: December 01, 2009, 03:37:08 PM »

We have two homilies each Sunday. One in English and one in Arabic.
obviously depending on the length of the Homily, what is the typical length of the whole Sunday DL in your church?

Also, this question is directed to Ortho-cat

It typically ranges from 90 to 110 minutes.
ok. Our's is 2 1/2 hrs. with about a 15 min. Homily in the middle.
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« Reply #30 on: December 01, 2009, 03:46:03 PM »

A Homily is rarely an exegesis of the Gospel. The Homily of St. John Chrysostom read at Pascha does not "explain" the Gospel. Its simply preaching. Its very good preaching, but its preaching. I've heard very bad preaching as well. Each prayer and hymn of the Divine Liturgy is a contains theological truth which is common to the whole Church. It would be a shame if someone's distorted interpretation of truth were to be presented alongside it. Priests, monastic and lay preachers are not infallible oracles. Preaching has its place place, but I prefer it outside of the Liturgy.

Well, I don't know if I'd say "rarely."  We have quite a few writings from the aforementioned St. John that were homilies and were exegetical in nature.  And while frequently we're instructed to give homilies that are relevant and help people with their lives, there is still a certain expectation that a primary tool in doing so is drawing out the meaning from the day's scripture (be it Gospel or Epistle).
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« Reply #31 on: December 01, 2009, 04:09:09 PM »

A Homily is rarely an exegesis of the Gospel. The Homily of St. John Chrysostom read at Pascha does not "explain" the Gospel. Its simply preaching. Its very good preaching, but its preaching. I've heard very bad preaching as well. Each prayer and hymn of the Divine Liturgy is a contains theological truth which is common to the whole Church. It would be a shame if someone's distorted interpretation of truth were to be presented alongside it. Priests, monastic and lay preachers are not infallible oracles. Preaching has its place place, but I prefer it outside of the Liturgy.

Well, I don't know if I'd say "rarely."  We have quite a few writings from the aforementioned St. John that were homilies and were exegetical in nature.  And while frequently we're instructed to give homilies that are relevant and help people with their lives, there is still a certain expectation that a primary tool in doing so is drawing out the meaning from the day's scripture (be it Gospel or Epistle).

I agree with George that because "priests, monastic and lay preachers are not infallible oracles," "it would be a shame if someone's distorted interpretation of truth were to be presented alongside it (the Divine Liturgy)." However, I do not think that the Church will suffer from an occasional fallible preacher. Besides, isn't the homily is to serve as the climax of the first part of the DL, the Liturgy of the Word, that was designed to be a teaching service modeled on the Synagogue services. Since we do not kick out the catechumens after the homily anymore, we tend to meld together the DL into one service and conflate the two halves into one Eucharistic service. However, I can see that in a monastery setting it would be redundant to have a sermon in the middle of the DL.

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« Reply #32 on: December 01, 2009, 05:57:23 PM »

As a convert, I've always found that Homilies help to instruct the basic interpretation of scripture from the Orthodox perspective.
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« Reply #33 on: December 01, 2009, 07:11:57 PM »

A Homily is rarely an exegesis of the Gospel. The Homily of St. John Chrysostom read at Pascha does not "explain" the Gospel. Its simply preaching. Its very good preaching, but its preaching. I've heard very bad preaching as well. Each prayer and hymn of the Divine Liturgy is a contains theological truth which is common to the whole Church. It would be a shame if someone's distorted interpretation of truth were to be presented alongside it. Priests, monastic and lay preachers are not infallible oracles. Preaching has its place place, but I prefer it outside of the Liturgy.

Well, I don't know if I'd say "rarely."  We have quite a few writings from the aforementioned St. John that were homilies and were exegetical in nature.  And while frequently we're instructed to give homilies that are relevant and help people with their lives, there is still a certain expectation that a primary tool in doing so is drawing out the meaning from the day's scripture (be it Gospel or Epistle).

I agree with George that because "priests, monastic and lay preachers are not infallible oracles," "it would be a shame if someone's distorted interpretation of truth were to be presented alongside it (the Divine Liturgy)."

I think this is specifically why the Church has, in various places at various times, given permission only to a select few to preach - better not have a sermon than only bad ones.  Nowadays there is less danger, especially in the lands where Orthodoxy is relatively new, since most (if not all) our priests have an advanced degree and more extensive training than they do/did in other places/times.

However, I do not think that the Church will suffer from an occasional fallible preacher. Besides, isn't the homily is to serve as the climax of the first part of the DL, the Liturgy of the Word, that was designed to be a teaching service modeled on the Synagogue services. Since we do not kick out the catechumens after the homily anymore, we tend to meld together the DL into one service and conflate the two halves into one Eucharistic service.

I wouldn't call the homily the "climax" of the first part of the DL, even at St. John Chrysostom's time; the Epistle and Gospel are/should be, IMO.  But otherwise we're generally agreed.

However, I can see that in a monastery setting it would be redundant to have a sermon in the middle of the DL.

Well, in a monastery they do get a good amount of preaching - words from the Abbot, from the Gerontikon - readings during meals, etc.
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« Reply #34 on: December 01, 2009, 07:49:41 PM »

Well, in a monastery they do get a good amount of preaching - words from the Abbot, from the Gerontikon - readings during meals, etc.
Indeed there is. And I love it! My concern (highlighted by Second Chance's comment above) is that the Homily is seen by some as the "highlight" of the Liturgy of the Catechumens- a place which should be occupied by the Gospel and Epistle.
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« Reply #35 on: December 01, 2009, 09:16:09 PM »

Well, in a monastery they do get a good amount of preaching - words from the Abbot, from the Gerontikon - readings during meals, etc.
Indeed there is. And I love it! My concern (highlighted by Second Chance's comment above) is that the Homily is seen by some as the "highlight" of the Liturgy of the Catechumens- a place which should be occupied by the Gospel and Epistle.

You are really stretching my comment and running with it. Let me try one more time.

The purpose of the entire Liturgy of the Word was/is to teach, to instruct. Thus, there is no separation between the text and the explanation of it. I seem to recall that communication to be effective requires not only the transmission of the message but its receipt and proper understanding by the receiver. Not everybody is as blessed as you to be able to understand the Word upon hearing it.
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« Reply #36 on: December 01, 2009, 09:25:54 PM »

Not everybody is as blessed as you to be able to understand the Word upon hearing it.
They just need to become little children instead of trying to be wise and learned (Luke 10:21)  Wink
But seriously, the Liturgy of the Catechumens is a Liturgy, not a Catechumen class.
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« Reply #37 on: December 01, 2009, 09:39:36 PM »

Not everybody is as blessed as you to be able to understand the Word upon hearing it.
They just need to become little children instead of trying to be wise and learned (Luke 10:21)  Wink
But seriously, the Liturgy of the Catechumens is a Liturgy, not a Catechumen class.

I had already conceded the point that we have merged the two parts into one. The point that I am trying to make, albeit unsuccessfully, is that IMHO the sermon/homily is an integral part of the Divine Liturgy. Also, there is nothing wrong if a 15 minute fragment of a 90-120 minutes long service can serve as a class because there are far too many Orthodox who can benefit from some instruction, not just catechumens. 

Seriously though, Australia seems a more attractive now that "
'Mad Monk' Tony Abbott dooms Kevin Rudd's Australian climate change bill. The Australian government's plan to take a lead at the Copenhagen summit have been thrown into doubt after the opposition Liberal party elected a self-confessed climate change sceptic, Tony Abbott, as leader." From today's Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/6703542/Mad-Monk-Tony-Abbott-dooms-Kevin-Rudds-Australian-climate-change-bill.html

Note to the moderator: Above comment is not meant to be a political statement but just another example of the nice things about Australia--aside from the Man from Oz.
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« Reply #38 on: December 01, 2009, 10:28:17 PM »

I wonder if we expect a sermon because, before converting, we are so used to being instructed or lectured. You know how it is in some churches; sing a few hyped up songs, then relax for 40 minutes of some guy expounding the latest theory on Job.

I have to admit that the best liturgies I have attended have been those without a homily or when the homily is very, very brief. It seems to me a clash of cultures when the emotional and spiritual flow of the Liturgy is broken by a "lesson". Just my opinion.
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« Reply #39 on: December 01, 2009, 10:36:58 PM »

I'm all for a Short, Sweet discourse of instruction on the revealing of scriptural interpretation in the frame of Orthodox Tradition. But no-one likes a long-winded preacher. Grin
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« Reply #40 on: December 01, 2009, 11:10:07 PM »

I'm all for a Short, Sweet discourse of instruction on the revealing of scriptural interpretation in the frame of Orthodox Tradition. But no-one likes a long-winded preacher. Grin

St. John Chrysostom had some very, very, very long homilies.  He seems to have done well for himself Wink
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« Reply #41 on: December 01, 2009, 11:11:31 PM »

I'm all for a Short, Sweet discourse of instruction on the revealing of scriptural interpretation in the frame of Orthodox Tradition. But no-one likes a long-winded preacher. Grin

St. John Chrysostom had some very, very, very long homilies.  He seems to have done well for himself Wink
A few of them can get away with it. I prefer Jacob of Serugh.
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« Reply #42 on: December 01, 2009, 11:28:49 PM »

I'm all for a Short, Sweet discourse of instruction on the revealing of scriptural interpretation in the frame of Orthodox Tradition. But no-one likes a long-winded preacher. Grin

St. John Chrysostom had some very, very, very long homilies.  He seems to have done well for himself Wink

Father,

Did the homily always come in the middle of the Liturgy, though?
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« Reply #43 on: December 02, 2009, 01:02:05 AM »

Did the homily always come in the middle of the Liturgy, though?

In Acts 20 we read one of the earliest recorded liturgies;
Quote
[7]On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and he prolonged his speech until midnight. [8] There were many lights in the upper chamber where we were gathered. [9] And a young man named Eu'tychus was sitting in the window. He sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer; and being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. [10] But Paul went down and bent over him, and embracing him said, "Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him." [11] And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed.

Here we read that the preaching of the word occurs before the breaking and eating of the bread. The Homily has traditionally always been apart of the Liturgy of the Word so that all could be enlightened.
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« Reply #44 on: December 02, 2009, 03:44:33 AM »

I wonder if that guy who fell out the window in Acts 20 was the first guy to ever fall asleep in church?  Cheesy

Seriously though, IMO, the reading of the epistle and gospel in the service is useful only if people understand what it means. Otherwise, what's the point? God doesn't care if we recite scripture just for the sake of it. Surely we can't expect these people to go home and read the scriptures for themselves and come up with their own interpretations?
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