Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 15, 2010
Keep those homilies to 8 minutes, urges Vatican official
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
VATICAN CITY - Homilies should be no longer than eight minutes, says a Vatican official.
Priests and deacons should also avoid reading straight from a text and instead work from notes so that they can have eye contact with the people in the pews, said Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops.
In his new book, The Word of God, Eterovic highlighted some tips that came out of the 2008 Synod of Bishops on the Bible. The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, reproduced a few passages from the book March 10.
It's not unusual for preachers to recognize that they have less-than-perfect communications skills or that they struggle with preparing homilies, the archbishop wrote. Everyone should spend an appropriate amount of time to craft a well-prepared and relevant sermon for Mass.
Pope Benedict, he said, starts working on his Sunday homilies on the preceding Monday so that there is plenty of time to reflect on the Scripture readings from which the homily will draw.
Eterovic praised an initiative by the archdiocese of Paris, called Improving Homilies, that has been offering courses and guidelines for priests and deacons.
Among the guidelines' many helpful suggestions, he said, is that "the homily in general should not go over eight minutes - the average amount of time for a listener to concentrate."
A preacher would do well to find inspiration from not just the Bible, but from the newspaper, too, so the homily can address the current concerns, he said.
A homily can also offer ideas for what people can do in the way of prayer, readings, and activities at home, work or in society to help carry out Gospel teachings.
Homilies can be written out, Eterovic said, but a preacher should work from brief notes or a bare outline that lets him follow the logical path of his talk while still being able to look at the congregation.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.