A Case for the 10 Minute Homily

Yesterday was the feast of Saint Peter Chrysologus (AD 380-450). The Greek nickname Χρυσολόγος means “golden-worded.”

His nickname refers to the fact that he was the most celebrated preacher of his time. He was the Saint John Chrysostom of the West.

But if you study his famous sermons, you’ll discover that this sermons were short. He was a master of packing it tight and thick. He did not waste words. He could preach a brilliant sermons in five to ten minutes and blow away his audience. He new that people are bored quickly. If you’re going to make an impact, you’d better do so quickly.

He is proof that good preaching is not necessarily loooooong preaching. Short and sweet.

Saint Peter Chrysologus, pray for us.

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  • Dan

    I noticed the “medium fit the message” in the case of your blog post. It was not too long!

    By the way, I think Fr. Robert Barron’s sermons are a great contemporary example of how to pick a punch in 10-15 minutes. He is faithful to the Word (Scriptures) and a great one to point Protestants to in order to prove that Catholics can exposit Scripture as well.

  • David Bates

    *HIS nickname

    • Dan

      Who wants to volunteer to proofread all of Dr. Marshall’s posts before they go online?

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  • Toni Meloche

    JMJ I agree with you that a homily can be faithful, truthful and short; however, many of these “8 minute” homilies fail to “pack the punch” as St. Peter “the golden-mouth” professed long ago. I listen to today’s priests and wonder why they always seem to “miss the mark,” that very real moment of opportunity when they can teach the faithful a Truth, but then st
    op right before it happens. We are a laity that have become filled with hearing only luckwarm homilies that are more geared toward “feel good” spirituality, that are “sugar-coated, watered-down” homilies that when a priest does profess a Truth they become shocked and angry. “We” no longer want the full disclosed Truth b/c that hits us were we hurt. We need to pray for our priests. Pray for them to be courageous witnesses to the faith and to the Truth of Jesus Christ. Peace T

    • RobinJeanne

      Is there a book with his homilies that i could purchase and use to do my 10 min. talk after our bible study????? Right now I’m doing a “did you know….?” about different Catholic teachings.

    • JoeAllen

      These days, everything (homilies, tv programs, movies, government school systems, etc) is geared to the bottom 50% of the audience. The top 50% of the audience is usually BORED TO TEARS. These days everything is DOWN-setting instead of UP-lifting.

    • Toni,

      Keep in mind that 1 homily is preached but a 100 homilies are heard. Every time I sit on the pews and hear uninspired preaching, I remind myself that perhaps the Holy Spirit deems my spiritual needs not as great as the needs of someone else who might be listening and thinking “This is just what I needed to hear”.

      “Viva Cristo Rey!!”

  • Joan

    You were mentioned on “True Restoration Radio ”
    blog or podcast

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  • Dcn Harbey Santiago

    Well, one of the best advices I got in my homiletics class, in “Deacon School” was: If you can not say it in 8 minutes, you can not say it.

    “Viva Cristo Rey!!”

  • Rob

    In the words of Cardinal Collins of Toronto, “an immortal homily need not be eternal.”

  • Tony

    Superb point, Dr. Marshall! When I was away from the Church for several years (hanging out in Evangelical Protestant-world, ugh!) I became accustomed to 30-40 minute sermons that often seemed to pack the maximum amount of words into the fewest possible thoughts. Home now in our Holy Mother Church, I’m regularly astounded by the depth of wisdom some of our priests can express in a few succinct sentences. AMDG!!!

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  • I remember looking for his homilies last year on-line, but could not find any but one or two. It’s a shame there are not more on the web.

  • Jennifer Morgan

    That is probably one of my favorite things about your blog posts, short yet meaningful!