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It certainly isn't public speaking. I've gone to Church regularly for decades now, and I can count the number of memorable sermons on one hand. Homilies wander (which would be fine if the topic was Moses and the Israelites in the desert), are overly long (often feeling like we're all going to be on Moses's 40 year sojourn), and are flat out boring.

The Mass is made up of two parts, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, both of equal value. Indeed, several priests will not allow communion to congregants who arrived too late for the Word part. If it's that important, shouldn't public speaking be a vital part of seminary training?


I know everyone's not going to be Bishop Sheen. But if you're not especially gifted in the oratorical arts, meandering around a point for 25 minutes doesn't compensate. When I worked in midtown Manhattan, I attended the daily noon Mass at Holy Cross (a beautiful Church, btw, opposite the Port Authority). There was a priest, Father George, whose sermons went like this: he'd explain the lesson of the first reading in two sentences, then the lesson of the second reading with equal brevity, then a sentence tying the two readings together, followed by two sentences explaining who the saint of the day was and why (s)he is important to our Catholic culture. He kept my attention, I learned something, and he clocked in under two minutes without fail. Not unlike Christ's sermons and parables (entertaining, educational, inspirational, pithy).


There's a lesson in there. Especially if we want to attract and retain worshippers. It's hard to be alluring to a young person if homily time equates to nap time.


Father George, where are you?


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