Sunday, September 24, 2023


The title above this post is not mine, but rather that of the Deacon’s Bench. In the link below my comments is a good analysis of how poorly Vatican II has been implemented in these more than 50 years. 

Some say, it will take another 50 years to implement all aspects of Vatican II properly. But I don’t expect to see it even if it is 10 years. And most who once were practicing Catholics could care less. 

When you have at most 20% of all baptized Catholics attending Mass, and in some places it is less than 5%, who will be around in 10 or 50 years to see the new springtime for the Church that members of a utopian magisterium once predicted????

Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s essay asking if Mass is just too long (the essay is linked in Deacon Kendra’s post), misses the point as Amy Welborn’s response (also linked in the Deacon’s Bench) points out. 

When I was in the seminary, our homiletic’s professor taught us that we should write an outline for our homilies, memorize that outline and speak without notes but not veering away from the planned “talking points” of the outline. He also said that the homily should be 5 to 7 minutes long, never more than 7 minutes but less that 5 minutes was fine. 

In my 44 years of ordination, I began to go 10 to 12 minutes, sometimes a bit longer. I never used notes, except for about a 3 or 4 year period between 2015 to about 2020. Why? Anxiety about speaking extemporaously from a memorized outline got to me. But the problem was that I was getting too theological and wanted to be more accurate in explaining what I was preaching. I sounded stilted.

Since 2020 I’ve gone back to an outline and preach no more than 7 minutes. In retirement, I usually preach no more than 5 minutes on Sunday. People like that I speak off the cuff. I tell them I don’t, but I speak from a memorized simple outline. 

My Masses at a packed church in Bluffton are no more than 45 to 50 minutes long. That is well appreciated, I can tell you.

The other thing that makes the Mass too long is the amount of time it takes to distribute Holy Communion. Kneeling at an altar railing reduces the time, believe I know. Of course, the priest gets a workout but just look it as spiritual works of mercy!

As it concerns music, if a hymn is sung that isn’t the official Entrance Chant, which is sad that the official chant is seldom heard in most parishes, it should end once the priest is at the chair or the altar, wherever he begins the Mass. The parts of the Mass that are sung should be crisp and not dragged out with repeated sentences or God-forbid, refrains, and please, no silly, childish echo parts! And once Holy Communion is distributed, no singing!! And at the recessional, the priest leaves immediately and once he goes the people go, no need to sing endless verses of a recessional hymn or entertain the people with a postlude, but postlude please as people leave!

As far as contrived silences, no more than 10 seconds before the Penitential Act, 5 seconds after the readings and no silence after the homily, unless the congregation needs to recover from an unusually disastrous homily, but most homilies don’t need silence afterwards. 15 seconds of silence after Holy Communion, no singing or instrumental music, is good too. 

My own suggestion might be too backwards for our papal magisterium today. Each parish should have a “principal” Mass which is your traditionally called “High Mass” or more accurately “Sung Mass” and by that I don’t mean singing added hymns, but singing the Mass, priest, choir, assembly, using incense, Holy Water, etc. Liturgy geeks who like all this know when to get it; others no how to avoid it. That Mass could go well over an hour and well appreciated by those who desire it. 

The other Masses can be more simplified, maybe use progressively solemnity or a hodgepodge of liturgical niceties. One or two Masses—no singing, just a. Spoken Mass. 

Deacon Kandra’s post raises many more issues. Press it’s title for it:



Mark Thomas said...

Father McDonald, you are an excellent homilist. I have been blessed via your homilies.


Mark Thomas

Православный физик said...

Should one be really be concerned with time when it comes to the Worship of God?

I can only say that 1.5-2 hours flies rather quickly for the Divine Liturgy.

I would make the argument that for the west, the reason time feels like it flies so slowly is because the Liturgy as done in the majority of parishes does not speak to the nous.