Drastic change? On the Pope’s advice to keep homilies short | Inquirer Opinion
LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Drastic change? On the Pope’s advice to keep homilies short

/ 04:05 AM June 24, 2024

I was amused and pleased that Pope Francis himself has advised priests to keep their homilies short (“Pope Francis urges priests not to bore worshippers with long sermons,” News, 6/13/24).

I support this suggestion, though I wonder if keeping it within just “eight minutes” as the Pontiff specified, might be too drastic a change. After all, I had, in 32-plus years, attended countless Masses where the priest’s homily stretched on and on and on.

I’ve gotten so used to hearing long-winded sermons that I told myself years ago to just consider my act of sitting through them patiently as a personal sacrifice to God. Now that I’m older, I choose to be more understanding and less critical, acknowledging that there’s no perfect homily and no perfect priest, regardless of how much we respect and revere them.

Besides, I am also aware that as a Mass-goer, I do have a responsibility to attentively listen to the homily and absorb and internalize its message, resisting my usually restless mind’s tendency to drift off especially if the sermon is turning out to be lengthy, unfocused, generic, insubstantial, dry, etc.

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But then again, the homily’s quality (or lack of) somehow reveals how much the priest prepared for that important part of the eucharistic celebration, and in that regard, you either end up being appreciative of or disappointed in padre. If it’s the latter, you’d just look forward to the following Sunday with the hope that he would have a better showing, so to speak.

But to be fair, I must say that I’m fortunate to have attended a good number of Masses where the priests were in their element, conveying the Gospel’s message effectively through clear, focused, and well-delivered sermons.

To this day, I remember when our local parish’s long-time guest priest, dear ol’ Fr. Jose Vino P. Faminialagao, OFM, made us, the congregation, burst into spontaneous applause—twice!—through his rousing homily (delivered in Filipino) during a Saturday evening anticipated Mass many years ago. I don’t recall the details anymore, but it was about a repentant young woman who was being unfairly judged by her colleagues for her past transgressions. Father Vino’s homily made that Mass truly uplifting and unforgettable, and I’ve been yearning to experience something like that again. Let me add, though, that of course, I don’t expect every single homily to be all fireworks. A solemn one is okay, too.

So what is the ideal time limit for a priest’s sermon? Eight minutes, as per Pope Francis? Let’s give it a try. But whatever the length may be, may our priests here and abroad bring God and His message of hope closer to the people whenever they take the pulpit. I dare say that in today’s world—full of chaos, conflict and catastrophe—we need God more. And who knows, better homilies might just inspire more young men to join the priestly vocation, whose membership is sadly dwindling.

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All the best to our kaparian. We are rooting for you.

Claude Lucas C. Despabiladeras,

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