Shorten up Sunday services, says Anglican bishop

From The Telegraph:Church services need to be shorter, says bishop.”

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68 comments

  1. Well at least we are ahead of the Anglicans in something.

    Just think how our church attendance would plummet if we increased it to match their 90 minutes! Especially if most of the extra time were taken up in a longer homily!!!

    Of course the bishop’s 50 minute service may undercut us a little but many people might have to drive further than 10 minutes to find an Anglican parish.

    When they get down to the 30-40 minute range we will have real competition.

    1. Worship less to encourage others to worship? Sounds similar to getting people to take communion on the tongue and kneeling supposedly to make them more reverent towards the holy eucharist.

      I’d like to see figures demonstrating that actually happens.

  2. Psst: Don’t tell the Orthodox and Oriental Churches….

    McMass: your minimum RDA of sanctity….

    1. It’s funny that we’re coming to this. The question used to be “how much of Mass do we need to attend to satisfy our obligation?” It was answered rather satisfactorily by saying that the whole Mass, though made up of different parts, is one cohesive unit, and proper participation in the Liturgy of the Eucharist requires participation in the Liturgy of the Word.

      “The two parts which, in a certain sense, go to make up the Mass, namely, the liturgy of the word and the eucharistic liturgy, are so closely connected with each other that they form but one single act of worship. Accordingly this sacred Synod strongly urges pastors of souls that, when instructing the faithful, they insistently teach them to take their part in the entire Mass, especially on Sundays and feasts of obligation.” (SC 56)

      “A person should not approach the table of the Bread of the Lord without having first been at the table of His Word.” (Inaest. Donum 1)

      But now the question is being rephrased: “How much of Mass do we need to have to satisfy our obligation?” One wonders if people will eventually complain that there are too many readings…

      1. Jeffrey, there are two or three or four different questions here:

        1) How much of the Mass must one attend to meet one’s obligation (that is to avoid sinning gravely)?

        2) How much of the Mass should one attend before receiving Communion?

        3) How much of the Mass should one attend on Sunday? (and therefore what should pastors teach their parishoners to do?)

        Inaest. Donum answers question 2, Sacrosanctum Concilium question 3, but one can hold to thses and still hold what was once the common opinion of moral theologians that you do not sin gravely if you are present from the offertory to the communion of the faithful.

      2. Must, should, have to and ought to place the act of thanking God in the eucharist in a legalistic framework in which it has no place. Those who place it there evidently expect God to behave as they do. The tendency of people to create gods in their own image and likeness is never-ending.

        By the way, the offertory of the mass occurs after the words of institution – mementes offerimus.

        What is commonly, albeit incorrectly, termed the offertory of the mass, is in fact, the preparation of the gifts.

      3. Must, should, have to and ought to place the act of thanking God in the eucharist in a legalistic framework in which it has no place.

        In that case you dissent from the teaching of the Church, which does use such words in discussing the Eucharist. They’re not the whole picture, but they are part of it and rightly so.

        By the way, the offertory of the mass occurs after the words of institution – mementes offerimus.

        What is commonly, albeit incorrectly, termed the offertory of the mass, is in fact, the preparation of the gifts.

        The GIRM supports my usage:

        37. … Others accompany another rite, such as the chants at the Entrance, at the Offertory, at the fraction (Agnus Dei), and at Communion.

      4. The GIRM uses “Offertory” and “Preparation of the Gifts” to describe the same part of the Mass. The prayers over the bread and wine (“Blessed are you…”) use the word “offer” as well: quem tibi offérimus.

      5. What is offered at the Preparation of the Gifts is bread and wine. The offertory refers to the offering of the body and blood of the Lord that takes place after the words of institution.

        Mr Howard, you are very quick to throw the word dissent about. Another example of temple policing.

        God made human beings in God’s own image and likeness and human beings very quickly (and regularly) return the compliment.

      6. What is offered at the Preparation of the Gifts is bread and wine. The offertory refers to the offering of the body and blood of the Lord that takes place after the words of institution.

        No, the “offertory” refers to the “Preparation of the Gifts”. Your use is not the use of the official documents or the historical use of the Church.

        Mr Howard, you are very quick to throw the word dissent about. Another example of temple policing.

        Well, if you say that it’s wrong to use words speaking of obligation (should, ought, etc.) in regard to the Mass, as you did above, “Must, should, have to and ought to place the act of thanking God in the eucharist in a legalistic framework in which it has no place,” then you are dissenting from the teaching of the Church, which teaches that there are matters of obligation surrounding the liturgy.

      7. The offertory refers to the offering of the body and blood of the Lord that takes place after the words of institution.

        Where (or by whom) is the term “offertory” used to refer to the offering/oblation which follows the anamnesis of the Eucharistic Prayer?

      8. The offering, made by the community, of the body and blood of the Lord, to God, which takes places after the institution narrative, constitutes the sacrifice of the mass. It is the kernel of that which allows the mass to be called a sacrifice.

        Devotes of René Girard would have a field day analysing your position on ‘us’ and ‘them,’ on those who are ‘inside’ and ‘outside,’ which lies behind your liberal (humour unintentional) and loose use of the word dissent. The primeval impulse is to make ‘them’ like ‘us.’ Exposing and obliterating ‘dissent,’ is one way of achieving this.

        The tradition of the church is an organic eco-system. It changes, independently of whether you are prepared to recognise that or not.

        Thankfully, your efforts to make God in your own image and likeness are just that. Idolatry hasn’t gone away.

      9. The offering, made by the community, of the body and blood of the Lord, to God, which takes places after the institution narrative, constitutes the sacrifice of the mass. It is the kernel of that which allows the mass to be called a sacrifice.

        Certainly — it’s what makes the Mass a sacrifice. It’s what makes the Eucharist a sacrifice to God before It is a banquet for us.

        I’ve just never heard that part of the Mass called the “offertory”.

      10. There is no basis for your claim that the eucharist is a sacrifice before it is a banquet.

        Your use of the word ‘before’ is ambiguous since, on the one hand, it may simply be an indication that X is anterior to Y. However, on the other hand, it may be interpreted in a qualitative, rather than in a temporal sense.

        In either case, it is unhelpful.

      11. I don’t think that my claim is baseless or unhelpful.

        Chronologically speaking, the Eucharist is offered to (and received by) God as a sacrifice in the anaphora, and only after the anaphora is the Eucharist offered to (and received by) us as a communal banquet.

        Qualitatively speaking (from the Catholic perspective), does not the Eucharist as a communion meal derive its sign value and its efficacy from the very fact that it is a sacrifice? It’s not just Jesus’ favorite or last meal, or a meal to remember Him by. It is a sacrificial meal, not just of His Body and Blood, but of the Body which He gave and the Blood which He poured out.

        The Eucharist, being in the forms of bread and wine, is clearly meant to be received by us, to be eaten. I lament that western Catholics generally lost sight of that for centuries. But I think it is easier to lose sight of the Eucharist as being a sacrifice which we offer to God, and I would lament the loss of this understanding.

      12. No one is suggesting that the eucharist as sacrifice ought to be overlooked. You are defending a position which is not being attacked.

        Secondly, if you simply mean that the eucharist is a sacrifice before it is a meal, in an anterior sense, the point is so trite and inocuous that it doesn’t deserve to have any cyber ink spilt over it.

        Furthermore, to claim that God receives the sacrifice before the eucharist is consumed is to conflate and confuse the two spheres of human existence (time) and divine existence (eternity). It is anthropomorphic nonsense to speak of anteriority in this context.

      13. No one is suggesting that the eucharist as sacrifice ought to be overlooked.

        I didn’t say anyone was suggesting that. But it’s still possible for the sacrificial aspect to be overlooked, even without people saying it ought to be.

        the point is so trite and inocuous that it doesn’t deserve to have any cyber ink spilt over it.

        Then don’t waste your time on it. But things that can go without saying often do. I think it’s worth noting that such an important part of the anaphora, the offering of the Eucharist to God, can be missed if we’re not paying attention. It’s what makes the Mass a sacrifice and not just a factory for producing Communion. It’s hard to miss the Communion Rite, but it’s easy to miss the offering in the anaphora. (At least that’s what I think.)

        Furthermore, to claim that God receives the sacrifice before the eucharist is consumed is to conflate and confuse the two spheres of human existence (time) and divine existence (eternity).

        Then keep the perspective temporal — we offer it to God before we presume to receive it ourselves.

        Or, you could say that God gets the first-fruits of the Eucharist.

  3. At a local parish where the announcements are made at the beginning of Mass, the Pastor made the important clarifying statement that the Mass time in the bulletin marked the beginning of the announcements, not the beginning of the procession.

    Synchronize your watches! Turn off your cell phones! (Same operation for me). We are “go” for launch!

    1. Interesting. I am not a big fan of announcements before mass. For one thing it will encourage people to be late(r). On the other hands, Jack, I do believe that beginning punctually is important. Our tower bells are automated and they greet the people as they are gathering, and the words of the entrance hymn begin at the published mass time. Subliminally I think is conveys a sense of respect for the assembly and for the act of worship itself; there is greater intentionality and a sense of being properly prepared and disposed.

    2. “When things begin” is very much a cultural and sub-cultural thing.

      When I was in academia, a 10:00 am class time meant that people usually began arriving around 9:50 (often because that was when the classroom became available from the last class) and every one was there by 10:00 am for the professor to begin.

      When I came to the public mental health system I found that a 10:00 am meeting time meant that the first person or two began arriving at that time, and that there was usually a sufficient quorum of interested parties that the meeting began at around 10:10 am. Needless to say for awhile I found myself sitting in a room between 9:55 and 10:00am wondering if I had the wrong time for the meeting or had it been cancelled.

      Part of the sub-cultural difference is that academia is more hierarchical than the mental health system (only small status differences among colleagues), and that a class is often more a performance rather than a collaborative meeting. Despite Vatican II the Mass is still more of a performance than a collaborative act of worship. So people expect the performance to take place on time in an efficient manner like a lecture.

      Among the Greek Orthodox, people slowly assemble for the Divine Liturgy scheduled for 10:00 am during the Matins service which begins at 9:00am. Not only the people arrive causally but also in one instance the Archbishop arrived in his monastic habit partway through Matins and took a place behind the iconostasis. He walked up the side aisle very casually while the people looked and bowed in his direction. Liturgy among the Orthodox tends to be a little more collaborative since the choir and especially in the Greek tradition, the cantors, are essential for a well sung liturgy.

      1. One could always apply the rules of the modern concert hall or of Masonry and “tile the doors” at the beginning of the service.
        😉

    3. The patterns of Catholics arriving for Mass late and leaving Mass early are very interesting.. They may be facilitated by floor plans that allow people to enter and leave easily from side aisle seats. Some people develop very clever ways of going to communion such as switching aisles to facilitate making a quick exit.

      When I was on pastoral council people often complained about those who came late and left early. They accused the late comers and early goers of being irreverent. However since half the people in the US think God is very important in their lives (a 10 on a scale of 10) and about 60% pray daily, one has to assume that those coming late and leaving early include an even larger percentage of people who think God is very important in their lives and pray daily.

      Perhaps the people who come late and leave early have a more egalitarian and collaborate view of the liturgy rather than a hierarchical performance viewpoint in which one has to be there on time, and not leave before being dismissed by the person in charge.

      1. Perhaps those who come late and leave early are only attending under threat of law and treat law in the accustomed manner and interpret it in their favor and follow only the enforced minima?

        Does any other Christian denomination still require attendance on Sundays? I thought that went out for Congregationalists while Massachusetts was still a colony.

        Ted said, “When you can’t legislate quality, I suppose quantity will have to suffice.” This seems to apply both to requiring attendance and preaching.

        I have more problems with “theo-babble” preaching than length.

        I continue to maintain that most people would be happy to benefit from shortening the Mass by omitting the presidential prayers and that the VC translation encourages this.

      2. I don’t think the association of promptness with hierarchy and of non-promptness with egalitarianism are convincing.

        Indeed, I’ve been in egalitarian organizations with a high culture of promptness – out of respect for each other – and military-culture corporate organizations with a low culture of promptness – to show who has real power. And I don’t these are exceptional examples.

        Indeed, about the only time I would think of promptness as being hierarchical is when the hierarch demands promptness from below but then himself is late. Otherwise, promptness tends to be more other-centered and non-promptness tends to be more self-absorbed.

  4. You won’t find faster Masses than here in Ireland. Some priests I know can
    celebrate a Sunday Mass in less than thirty minutes.(That’s with everything, Homily, Creed, Prayer of the Faithful and Music) Has it stopped the decline? No. No because the message sent out is this is not important. Let’s get it over with
    It is the quality of the celebration that is important not how long or short it is.

  5. I doubt if that is the only, or even the main reason why so many people have stopped going to Mass in Carrigtwohill and choose to go elsewhere instead.

      1. Did you draw that conclusion from the same type of quantitative and qualitative research you carried out, when you were surveying the women of Ireland on the new translation and discovered that the results mirrored your own views exactly?

  6. Are “fast” Masses necessarily bad, and “long” services necessarily good? I’m sure we’d all agree that there should be no minimalism in ceremonial and singing for Sundays and feastdays, and that 15 / 20 minute Sunday Masses couldn’t possibly be good liturgy under normal circumstances. However, in my own experience, 45-60 minutes is a reasonable time for the usual Sunday Mass. I understand that in some countries of “first evangelization” and within certain religious communities the Sunday Masses last 2 hours or more because of the intense and prolonged singing by the people and the very long homilies. However, the length of these liturgies should always flow from the natural desire of the community as a whole to worship in a prolonged manner, and should not be an imposition by any given person or group. The Roman Rite itself is one of brevity, sobriety, and precision.

    I don’t know how things are like in the United Kingdom, but where I am (Manila, Philippines) there has been a tendency in recent years for some priests (and the lectors, servers, etc.) to drag out Sunday Mass with extremely long homilies, ceremonies done at a sleep-inducing pace, sluggish movements (sluggishness being often mistaken for “solemnity”) and affected / overly emotional / artificial ways of intoning the prayers. (“This…is the Lammmb of Gooohhhhhd……who takkkkessssssss awayyyyy…..the sinnnnsssssss…..of the worrrrrrrrrrld…..”). It’s even worse when the Mass is done in Tagalog, which is much more florid than English.

    I was educated as a child by the Dominicans, who always knew the balance between being too hasty and being affectedly slow, between irreverence and somnolence. Their Sunday Masses in the Dominican church nearest to my residence (and where I was spiritually nourished for many years) rarely last more than an hour, and usually last less than that. And yet they don’t sacrifice singing or reverence, the preaching is usually good, and no part of the Mass is ever omitted

      1. Seemingly the difference between the Benedictines and the Jesuits is that the Benedictines rush their meals and take their time at their prayers.

    1. “the length of these liturgies should always flow from the natural desire of the community”

      It’s the difference between people praying and people reciting prayers (or sitting quietly with their own thoughts while the presider recites).

      I like your point that reverence is not always conveyed by stretching things out. I would add, a short homily which people remember is better than a long homily they tune out!

      1. The “natural desire of the community” has many elements.

        Is it truly a community?
        or just people in the same place to fulfill an obligation ?
        [or to have individual prayer experiences while making a public appearance?]

        How many people?

        Is the space appropriate to both the size and culture of the community?

        GB, above, is also correct to note, “It is the quality of the celebration that is important not how long or short it is.”

        Even pastors who acknowledge the need for higher quality music [however defined] seem reluctant to apply similar performance standards to their presiding or other liturgical ministries.

        Why is it so hard to get presiders to work on quality in what they do?

  7. Fr Gabriel Burke :

    … Has it stopped the decline? No. No because the message sent out is this is not important. Let’s get it over with
    It is the quality of the celebration that is important not how long or short it is.

    Dead on target, regardless of text, translation, ancient or modern form of the EP.

    The article says, “Last year the Vatican last year told Catholic clergy to keep their sermons under eight minutes to cater for people who found it hard to concentrate for long periods.”

    I don’t recall anything like this. Can anyone provide to the link? Is this something particular which the author is generalizing?

    1. The lead of the article provides the very limited context.
      “In a new book consisting of reflections based on the 2008 Synod on the Word of God, the secretary for the Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, writes that homilies should not last more than eight minutes.”

      Indeed, not “the Vatican” but one RC bishop, more comparable to the Anglican bishop being reported.

  8. One easy way to “shorten” a Mass without getting rid of reverence, silence, or cutting anything out is simply to stop the unnecessary commentary that so many priests seem to have a need to add throughout the Mass. Also, think about announcements. Is every announcement necessary? Are you simply reading the bulletin to the people? Does every single thing happening in the parish that week need to be announced?

  9. “One easy way to “shorten” a Mass without getting rid of reverence, silence, or cutting anything out is simply to stop the unnecessary commentary that so many priests seem to have a need to add throughout the Mass. ”

    This reminds me of an Easter Vigil I attended 3 years ago. The priest announced that he was going to have only 4 of the Old Testament readings read because he didn’t want the Vigil and Mass to be too long. He then proceeded to stop the Vigil / Mass every few minutes in order to belch forth some commentary (mostly negative) about the congregation, the parish, the community, etc. even daring the people several times to walk out if they wanted to. He was clearly in a disturbed state of mind, but we were a very patient lot and almost no one left. The whole thing dragged on for four hours, sans any baptisms or confirmations too. I was already very angry at the way he turned the Easter Vigil into his own talk show about his grievances, but even I didn’t have the courage to stand up and leave until a bunch of sweet Italian nuns stood up and finally walked out, way past midnight….

    1. I am so sorry to hear of your experience with the Easter Vigil. We had a pastor who was determined to keep it short, and began at 4:00 (the usual time for Saturday evening Mass) and had us out blinking in the sunlight at 5:30. That was the last Easter Vigil I went to at that parish!

  10. Anything worth doing is worth over-doing.

    But then, regarding preaching, no soul was ever saved after the 7 minute mark.

    1. At least not in the USA in the past century.
      Dominic and other saints seemed to get different results in earlier eras.
      Then there was Fulton Sheen.

      … just saying …

  11. Gerard,
    Where did you get you figure that carrig mass attendance has fallen. If you have information that is different to mine then maybe you should publish your figures.Your are so confident in your assertion then you have obviously done
    a quantitative and qualitative survey of the people attending mass here. Share it with the rest of us. Give us the facts and figures that back your assertion.

    1. The churches in Glounthane, Little Island, Cobh and Midleton are swelling with the emigrés from Carrig. Ask any of the clergy!

      1. This is your idea of a quantitative and qualitative survey.
        Do you even know how many Catholics are in the Parish of Carrigtwohill.
        Since I work with most of these priests on a daily basis I can categorically state your are talking nonsense.
        Gerard, show the facts or stop your waffling.

  12. Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    John Drake :

    Statistics aren’t everything. Read Bp Schneider’s book “Dominus est”.

    Thank you for the citation. No, statistics aren’t everything, but they surely would help in making the case.

    John, I’m familiar with bishop Schneider’s views from other blogs. I don’t accept his underlying assumption–he and many others make– that standing or receiving Holy Communion in the hand are inherently disrespectful practices. I have seen some sloppy people in the line, but that could be said of some who kneel and receive on the tongue as well.

    A respectful attitude toward the reception of holy communion is something which has to be taught. I would be more concerned with views and attitudes toward the eucharist than insisting upon a single posture or style of receiving communion. It shouldn’t include restricting historic/traditional methods for receiving the host and the chalice.

    Reception in the hand is one of them. The Vatican was right to grant the indult. Anglicans and Lutherans usually show a great deal of respect by taking the host in the right hand and raising their hand to the mouth, or bending down to take up the host with the tongue. Today they and other protestant churches often stand as well–an Eastern Church mark of respect of long standing in the west too.

  13. Jeffrey Pinyan :

    Qualitatively speaking (from the Catholic perspective), does not the Eucharist as a communion meal derive its sign value and its efficacy from the very fact that it is a sacrifice? It’s not just Jesus’ favorite or last meal, or a meal to remember Him by. It is a sacrificial meal, not just of His Body and Blood, but of the Body which He gave and the Blood which He poured out.

    Could someone bettered versed in Scripture and history than I please check this?
    Was not the Eucharist celebrated as a meal long before it was cited as a sacrifice?
    Was not the Eucharist valued as a memorial meal before it was valued as a sacrifice?
    If I am remembering this correctly,
    then it is impossible that “the Eucharist as a communion meal derive its sign value and its efficacy from the very fact that it is a sacrifice”

    Separately, I think we are coming out of a millennium or more of the Eucharist being emphasized as a sacrifice and that there are many who want to continue to emphasize it as a sacrifice and pass over Eucharist as a meal. Since it is that attitude which needs to be changed, at this time in church history, then I am more concerned about those who speak predominately about the sacrifice and overlook the meal than otherwise. When I hear of someone who wants to make sure that the sacrifice is not overlooked, I worry about them being part of the old ways and look for signs that they have any interest in the banquet without it being dependent on their sacrificial focus.

    1. I think this is a pendulum which swings too quickly these days. Mass as meal and not sacrifice has predominated (at least American) progressive Catholicism a bit too much since the folk-Mass advent. The natural reactionism to that is the present RotR “sacrifice not meal, vertical not horizontal” hardline. The natural reaction to that is progressive insanity. The natural reaction to that is traddie insanity. And so it goes.

      While a slightly different argument naturally ensues from the following, my suggestion is accurate translations and rubrical fidelity. If you do what the book says, you don’t have to worry quite so much about what aspect of the whatever you are emphasizing.

      As a liberal, I strongly believe that the Mass, and its meaning, are open to interpretation. I would like the people attending (not the people organizing the liturgy) to have the opportunity to do the interpreting.

      1. So when “the book says” (referring to the GIRM) the Priest shall turn to the people and say … I can assume you are in general support of Ad Orientem worship? Or is it not that simple?

    2. Well, the meal was the night before Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross, in a passover celebration. ??? I don’t understand. The EPs are full of sacrificial language. I have a problem with emphasizing one aspect of the eucharist over another. The eucharist is both sacrifice and meal-inseparable attributes. Both of these are proclaimed in the texts of the liturgy.

      1. The first Eucharist anticipated, or pre-presented, the sacrifice of the Cross. Christ called the bread His body “which IS given” and the wine His blood “which IS [being] poured out”. Our liturgical texts use the future tense because of the Clementine Vulgate, I think, but the Greek uses present passive participles.

      2. Why are you two not addressing the original perceptions of the Eucharist instead of repeating the later theological thoughts about it?

        This is exactly what I was trying to get away from, in seeking more information about what is known from Paul and Luke and the writings of the next generation or two.

        When did this looking back and connecting it to sacrifice begin, if I am correct that it is not the earliest frame of reference?

        One of the points which might follow is that the EPs we have now, with their fill of sacrificial language, might not be the best basis for understanding the essence of the Eucharist.

        Not in any way denying the theological truths you state, just suggesting that they are from recent layers and it might be good to excavate further and find the foundation levels of meaning.

    3. [T]here are many who want to continue to emphasize it as a sacrifice and pass over Eucharist as a meal. […] When I hear of someone who wants to make sure that the sacrifice is not overlooked, I worry about them being part of the old ways and look for signs that they have any interest in the banquet without it being dependent on their sacrificial focus.

      I am not a person who wishes to pass over the Eucharist (excellent pun, BTW) as a meal or banquet. I believe it is both a sacrifice and banquet, equally so: for it is meant to be eaten as much as it is meant to be offered to God, and (as I said before) that its value as food is derived from its substance, which is not just our Lord, but also a memorial of His paschal mystery.

      So no, I do not think of the Eucharist as a banquet without it being dependent on the sacrifice, if that coincides with your last clause.

      1. I was actually trying very hard not to infer or imply anything about anyone who has been commenting here by means of describing my reaction instead of trying to claim some knowledge about what someone else meant. I was attempting to use the counseling advice to make “I statements”. Sorry if that did not work for you.

      2. Tom, I assumed you were speaking generally, and not to anyone here in particular, but I wished to make it clear to you that I do not think I am a member of that generality. It’s not that it didn’t work for me.

  14. First of all, the Eucharist is celebrated in two very different time frames: kairos and kronos. I’m afraid this discussion has taken only kronos into consideration. From that perspective many of us know from personal experience that the clock length of the Mass will depend on a number of variables: Is this a daily or a Sunday or a Festive Mass? How many communicants will there be? Will people be offered communion under one form or both forms? How much of the ordinary will be sung? Is the response being sung (and how many verses)? Will there be the customary assembly songs at the beginning, the preparation of the gifts, communion, and at the end? Will there also be a song following communion? Does the deacon or priest happen to have the gift of preaching or is he just rushing through or rambling on? If the preaching is inspiring and engages the attention of the assembly, it could take 20 minutes or 10 or maybe even less. The issue on homily length (on the clock) is whether or not the assembly responds by being more ready to recognize God’s presence in their midst and is ready to offer Him thanks and praise. Another important variable is the character and customs of this particular community and their relationship with those who preside at Mass.
    To just speak of it in terms of it shouldn’t be more than 60 or 50 or 45 minutes strikes me as bordering on the absurd. I heard Padre Pio used to take 2 hours and everyone present was in ecstasy.

  15. So few people can speak effectively for even 7 or 8 minutes that setting that limit, or suggesting it, is at the very least a mercy in most cases. On the other hand, the folks who have something worth hearing, and can say it well, should have almost no limit on the length of their homily. Note the ‘almost’. I can only sit still so long before my back tightens up and my bum goes numb. If we’re not moving a bit, my concentration goes out the window.

    Of course, the folks who can say it well don’t too often need a great long time in which to say it.

  16. Why are you two not addressing the original perceptions of the Eucharist instead of repeating the later theological thoughts about it?

    Tom, I’ll continue the conversation here. Earlier, you had asked: “Was not the Eucharist celebrated as a meal long before it was cited as a sacrifice? Was not the Eucharist valued as a memorial meal before it was valued as a sacrifice?” Is the core of the matter whether Christians considered the Eucharist a sacrifice offered to God, or whether they considered the Eucharist to be sacrificial?

    For now I’m just posting some verses which I think display a first-or-second-generation perception of sacrifice in the (first) Eucharist; I’ll add some commentary after my morning routine.

    “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt 26:28)

    “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” (Mk 14:24)

    “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. … This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (Lk 22:19-20)

    “Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed.” (1 Cor 5:7)

    “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16)

    “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. … This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. ” (1 Cor 11:24-26)

    “We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.” (Heb 13:10)

    [One small post-script: Christians quickly (at least by Justin Martyr’s time) saw the Eucharist as the fulfillment of Mal 1:11. That seems to say something about the nature of the Eucharist as an offering/sacrifice to God.]

    1. Jesus says the bread is His body “which is (given) for” us; He refers to His blood as the “blood of the covenant”, or to the cup as “the new covenant in my blood.”

      His institution of the Eucharist is marked by sacrificial language (especially when you consider the verb tense in the Greek) — the bread and wine become present manifestations of His future Passion. The “covenant” language evokes Exodus 24: “And Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people, and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you …'” The blood comes from a sacrifice; my apologies if this point is trite or inocuous.

      When Jesus says that we should “do this in remembrance” of Him, part of the “this” is the making present of the covenant-sacrifice by means of bread and wine. And it is not only being made present to us, but to the Father as well. This is why Paul can say that we participate in Christ’s body and blood via the bread and cup, and how we “proclaim the Lord’s death” by celebrating the Eucharist (and specifically by EATING it).

      The eating then brings us the “pasch” imagery. Jesus is our pasch, our Passover Lamb. Not only did the Israelites sacrifice a lamb and then eat it, but they smeared its blood on their doorposts, in effect “showing” the sacrifice to God. The Passover was at once a meal and a sacrifice, inextricably linked: if you sacrificed it but did not eat it, you were not following the commandment (and who knows if you would have ended up dead?); if you ate the meal without sacrificing the lamb (and smearing its blood), the meal was not a covenant meal at all.

      So the Passover’s efficacy as a meal was rooted in it being a sacrifice, while its efficacy as a sacrifice was only realized if it was eaten as a meal.

      Finally, the obscure mention of “an altar” from which Christians have a right to eat (I do not think I am out of bounds to say that) in Hebrews 13 implies a sacrifice offered on that altar, the fruits of which are consumed by those offering.

      1. Good points in these two posts from JP.

        I knew I was not calling to mind a complete picture.

        It still seems to me, one not very good at finding specific texts, that there are references in Acts and Paul describing what the early Jesus followers did as to meet together, share texts and songs, have a meal, with no sacrificial mention at all.

        The earliest EPs may have no reference to anything sacrificial except the IN. I can not recall exactly and do not have the sources handy, so I am not claiming this, just trying to remember.

        The citation
        “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16)”
        seems to me to be equally able to support the point of view I am suggesting: that the people came together for the Eucharist with a stronger emphasis on the agape meal nature of it than of the theological Paul makes connecting it to sacrifice, if that is what he means here.
        Could the reference have meant more to his original readers about incarnation and membership in one body than being about anything like the sacrifices they had been the custom, whether far away in the Jerusalem or in their forae or agorae? Definitely speculating here.

        “Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed.” (1 Cor 5:7)
        is again a theologically true statement and basic Christian theology, but is it what Paul’s people had in mind when they gathered on the first day of the week?

      2. When the Acts of the Apostles describes the disciples meeting to break bread, it is very silent on the specifics. We have no idea what they said from the scriptural record alone. We have no idea what Paul was saying for hours and hours, until Eutychus fell out of the window. (Acts 20) Was it the ancestor of the anaphora in the Apostolic Constitutions in its unedited form? Or was he telling stories of “the one that got away” that he heard from the fishermen James and John?

        The most detail we get from Acts is 27:35, where Paul “took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat.” But is that the Eucharist properly speaking, or not? Maybe it was just a todah.

        I have Jasper & Cuming’s compendium of Eucharistic Prayers. The Didache chapters 9-10 is silent about sacrifice, but chapter 14 could be related to the Eucharist (as opposed to worship in general): “But every Lord’s day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations.”

        Justin does not specifically speak of offering the Eucharist to God in his first Apology, although he does say that the president offers “prayers and thanksgivings to God”, but whether “thanksgivings” means “eucharist(s)” is above my pay grade.

        The Apostolic Tradition (c. AD 220) has an offering after the institution narrative.

      3. “Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed.” (1 Cor 5:7)
        is again a theologically true statement and basic Christian theology, but is it what Paul’s people had in mind when they gathered on the first day of the week?

        It might not have been, which is why he had to remind them of, and remind them how the Eucharist was instituted.

  17. Fr. Gabriel Burke :
    This is your idea of a quantitative and qualitative survey.Do you even know how many Catholics are in the Parish of Carrigtwohill.Since I work with most of these priests on a daily basis I can categorically state your are talking nonsense.Gerard, show the facts or stop your waffling.

    Charity, Father, charity! And then, discretion . . .

  18. As far as it goes then, my recollection of the earliest sources seems to hold up. Eucharist was not consciously sacrificial nor was sacrificial language used, except as IN references to body and blood are implicitly sacrificial.

    I am always trying to get to origins and original purposes of things as a basis to evaluate what to do now.

    Where I am going is to suggest that while Catholics are committed to Eucharist being in essence both sacrament and sacrifice, the sacramentality might be more about fellowship meal, unity, and sharing.

    If that is plausible, then the EP, if returning to its origins, needs to focus on the sharing rather than the sacrifice. The mentions of sacrifice and offering included but take second place to the sharing.

    In this theory, the offering language might belong post-communion, for example, perhaps precisely quoting Paul’s reminder that
    “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16)

    Above is mere speculation until someone pulls the various pieces together and makes a complete case.

    I am going this way, however, partially in reaction to what I see as a tendency of others to make things hierarchical and the clerical caste consciousness which tends to [even though it need not] accompany that.

    Does anyone know of a liturgist making this kind of argument before?

  19. I can see shadows in my own last posting of my desire to keep close to the IN flow and imitate and clearly connect the actions of Jesus, without interruptions of theological asides, regardless of their depth or importance.

    Why should the action not flow clearly, with minimum verbiage, and directly from each of these actions to the other?

    Take the bread and wine
    Give thanks to the Father
    Share the bread and cup

    I feel that there is so much added verbiage and devotional activity in the Roman Rite, that many lose track of this essence.

    Pet Peeves
    We have so much ritual and verbiage around the preparation of the gifts and the altar that it is easy to mistake what goes on then for the offering which is actually part of the EP, as others have discussed.

    The Lord’s Prayer interrupts the repetition of the actions of Jesus. Too often have I heard how appropriate it is as preparation for communion, but never has anyone been able to make any case at all for it being part of the ritual flow. The LP can be and usually is something other than preparation for communion. If one feels it must be part of the Mass, maybe it belongs at the beginning, as more remote prepartion, or just before the dismissal.

  20. This is to invite rationales and conjectures as to WHY the majority of people of our time are concerned that the liturgy not last for more than a normative hour or less. Why, in contrast do they not look at their watches whilst attending concerts or sporting events? It might seem that this is due to a failure of catechesis and of cultural conditioning to rear them in such a way that they are as totally involved mentally, emotionally, and intellectually (in other words, ‘wholly”) in the drama and the very real sacrificial action, in the, if I may say so, exciting interaction of divinity and humanity which unfolds almost thrillingly from one ritual word to the next throughout the mass, as they are in other events in which they become completely engaged. Folksy liturgy and music, and folksy celebrants, attending only out of ‘obligation’, the sad lack of an heiratic vernacular and a host of other factors which do not communicate the depth, wonder, and profundity of the mass would be starting points. Are there other factors contributing to this cultural estrangement?

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